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Experiences with Sonarworks Reference 4 Studio

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Experiences with Sonarworks Reference 4 Studio

Postby RichardT » Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:31 pm

Sonarworks had some good Black Friday reductions so I took my chance and upgraded from Reference 4 ‘headphone’ edition to ‘studio edition with measurement microphone’.

For those that aren’t familiar with it, this product lets you measure your listening environment and construct a frequency curve that can be applied to your monitors to flatten their response. Martin strongly recommended it.

I had some interesting findings. I ran the process twice, because first time I hadn’t switched out the existing frequency adjustments in my KEF LS50Ws. The results were remarkably consistent between the two runs, taking into account the clear effects of the shelving introduced by the KEFs in the first run.

I had some significant troughs and peaks (6dB) in the bass region, and big discrepancies between the L and R channels resulting from one speaker being much closer to a wall (unavoidable at the moment). Fixing this has made a big difference to low frequency evenness, clarity and imaging, and this reaches right up into the midrange.

On the other hand, I had a very even tilt downwards in the higher frequencies, reaching around 3-4dB at 10k and above. This was a bit of a shock! When I applied the adjustment, everything sounded very bright, too bright for comfort.

I decided to partially cancel out the HF adjustment using the tilt settings inside the Sonarworks software, and I’m getting used to the effect now. I may switch out the tilt in the future as I get used to things more.

Do other people monitor completely flat or do you prefer a slight HF cut?
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Re: Experiences with Sonarworks Reference 4 Studio

Postby manwilde » Fri Dec 04, 2020 9:29 pm

I´ve been using it at home for the past month or so, and for over a year at the project studio. It never made sense to me to tilt the frequency response, as it seems to counteract what the calibration is supposed to fix, to a point. But then, if you get used to the way it sounds "tilted" and your mixes translate well, why not?. I mean, as long as you know what you´re doing...
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Re: Experiences with Sonarworks Reference 4 Studio

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:07 am

Hi Rich!

Glad to hear that you're already revealing better stereo imaging using Sonarworks Reference 4. Like you I already have acoustic treatment, and the measurements my biggest 'before' excursions are no more than 6dB, and mostly significantly less than that - here's my 'before' frequency response:


Judging by all the comments I've read concerning Sonarworks Reference 4 on forums around the world, improving from a starting point of perhaps +/-6dB has a mostly successful outcome, whereas those who try it with no acoustic treatment and who are therefore attempting to correct significantly larger peaks and troughs find that the software starts struggling to remedy those limitations (hardly surprising really).

I've accepted the corrected response in my tiny studio 'as is', and mix to that, and both frequency response and particularly imaging are significantly better.

The only thing I can think of that might result in exaggerated high frequencies is if you're not using one of Sonarworks' individually calibrated mics - it can be frightening to see just how much some cheap measurement mics vary in their frequency response, particularly above a few kilohertz.

On the other hand, unless all your reference tracks sound overly bright as well as your own creations, it might be worth persevering with the flat Sonarworks setting - you'll mix with less top end as a result and might like what you hear elsewhere - as manwilde says, it's all about translation.

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